Monday, 1 June 2015

Chinese Hi-tech Firms Highly Sexist

Adult film star Sola Aoi was cited in Alibaba's recruitment ad
China likes to say that "women hold up half the sky", back in Mao Zedong's days, and even then that wasn't true either.

Seems like the country has hardly moved ahead when it comes to gender equality, but perhaps these days criticism may finally get things going in the right direction.'s ad for International Nurses Day last month drew ire
Nasdaq-listed online marketplace promoted International Nurses Day with images of health workers in lingerie-like uniforms.

"I will never buy things from JD again. What disgusting behaviour!" one woman wrote.

The firm quickly yanked the ad and apologized.

Meanwhile on e-commerce giant Alibaba's official recruitment website, its ad said the company was looking for support staff for computer programmers, mentioning porn star Sola Aoi.

"You can be like 'Teacher Aoi' whose virtue and skills comprise a doubly strong and pervasive fragrance, the world in her breast," the ad read.

"You can be like Song Hye-kyo, from a respectable family, a heavenly beauty, who makes fish sink and birds alight, who obscures the moon and makes flowers blush," it said, referring to a mainstream South Korean actress.

Nothing mentioned about what office-related skills they should have or language ability...

It turns out Chinese technology companies have a history of inviting Japanese adult film stars to events. While the authorities ban online content they deem pornographic, illegal downloads have allowed adult film actresses to have huge followings in China.

Rola Takizawa on stage at an event hosted by Qihoo
In 2013, NetEase invited Anri Okita to its offices, where she ate lunch and took pictures with male staff. Shanghai-based gaming company Dream invited Yui Hatano to its annual company party last year, and internet security company Qihoo 360 hosted Rola Takizawa.

One wonders what the female staff at these companies thought of the company fueling their male colleague's carnal desires in the workplace... or they just shook their heads and continued working...

"In mainstream [Chinese] society, there is objectification of women and gender inequality," said Wang Ping of the Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences. "It might be more serious in technology companies."

For now, though it seems Alibaba has learned its lesson. Following criticism, it removed the ad and apologized.

It was "intended to be an attempt at humorous marketing to recruit IT talent," the company said. "We apologize to anyone offended... Alibaba is committed to providing equal opportunity and fair treatment to all employees on the basis of merit, without discrimination."

Until attitudes seriously change from the top, sexism will continue to be rampant in China's companies... which means with men in charge, it probably won't change anytime soon...

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